History in the Making
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Prior to 2019, the Ashland football team had only been able to capture three league titles (1975, 1977 and 2014) in the school’s history.
However, over the past two seasons the Clockers found themselves amongst the midst of making history after capturing two straight Tri-Valley League Championships.
This year’s senior class was on the verge of Clocker history if they could once again capture another league title this fall. If Ashland could accomplish the feat, not only would they be the first class to win three titles in their four-year playing time, but they’d also double the Clocker league championship wins all time.
“That class (17 now seniors who have been with the program since their freshman campaign) was nothing really special. They were a unique group in terms of being very tight, but at the time was not all that talented,” Ashland Football Coach Andrew Mackay said. “They were an enjoyable group that had a successful year but were primarily learning the basics of the game as Ashland had no town football. I will say they picked things up quickly while learning.”
Playing on the varsity team for their first time in their sophomore year the Clockers went an impressive 12-1. Their only loss on the season was on Thanksgiving Day when the Coaching staff decided to rest the starters because they had a Division 6 South Tournament game only a few days later. According to Mackay the seniors that season were a great class that led the Clockers to a State Title with a 20-19 victory over Old Rochester. Prior to winning the State Title, the Clockers defeated East Bridgewater 21-14 and the number two seed Rockland 33-16 to advance into the State Championship game.
Last fall taking part in an abbreviated season as juniors, Ashland went 4-1 and surprised just about everyone in capturing its second straight TVL Title, tying the school record of two league titles for a specific class.
“The expectations coming off a State Championship and having lost a lot of talented seniors who helped us get there, was not another league Title,” the Ashland coach said. “These kids worked their tails off and shocked everyone with their play to take home another league title. Unfortunately, with Covid there was no tournament that year so they couldn’t defend their State Championship.”
Entering their fourth year at Norwood and their third year on the varsity squad, the 17 now seniors were looking to do exactly what they’ve been doing all along and in hopes of making Ashland football history in winning their third TVL title for one class. To have one class win its third league title is unheard of in Ashland, considering the football team has only been able to take home three league titles in the last 43 years.
“Coming into the season the team was just looking to do what we’ve been doing all along; build a culture and tradition with selfless players rowing the boat toward being the best that they can be,” Mackay said. “Putting one foot in front of the other and hope we can win another title and then once we accomplish that – go for another State Title.”
The Clockers continued to keep things normal and moved head one game at a time. History was on the line when Ashland squared off against Norwood; the winner would be the 2021 TVL Champion. Although it was a total team effort three seniors were a big part of Ashland’s 29-20 win over the Mustangs to create history. Andrew Meleski rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the Clocker win. Jake Rymsza, who had dropped a pass from Luke Herter on 3 and 7 from the Norwood 42 during the eventual game winning drive, caught the very next pass, an 11-yard gain on fourth down to keep the drive moving. Rymsza sealed the contest with an interception on Norwood’s next possession.
“We were definitely ready to play. We had a good week of practice and were confident coming into the game as we had been in this situation (playing in a big game) before,” the Clocker Coach said. “The senior leadership shinned and despite a couple of lapses in the first half that made the game closer than it should have been this team was ready.”
Capturing their third league title in as many years not only left the players beyond ecstatic, but the Coaching Staff proud of what the players were able to accomplish.
“I am very proud of this team and after a day to enjoy this it will be time to turn the page and get ready for the next game,” Mackay said. “It’s time to finish off the season strong as we get ready to advance into the playoffs.”
Providing the winning family culture where if you work hard you will succeed throughout the season have been returning Clocker TVL All Stars Andrew Meleski, who at the time of this writing was leading the league in rushing; Mathew Gillis, one of the best defensive players in the state; starting quarterback Luke Herter and Dylan Drozeck, one of the best linemen in the state.
The other seniors, who have been part of all three league titles during the historic Ashland run are jack McGoff, Phil Bourque, Nick Tang, Ethan Antoniuk, Jacob Dionne, Maxwell Palin, Michael Diaz, and Peter Gigliotti.
Also, Michael De Souza, Jake Rymsza, Luis Miranda, Jacob Troutman, Keegan Weiss, Connor Krammer and John Giglia have etched their names in Clocker football history.